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Minimalism; the more in less

The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.


Minimalism began in visual art, music and other media around the 60’s and early 70’s. These works of art possessed a striking feature that could be summarised in the following words “stripping down to the essentials”. In recent times, minimalism has moved from being a mere element of art to a way life considered by adoptees to be a source of happiness and fulfilment. When you live as a minimalist, you strive to only own things that serve a purpose. It’s about living simply and having only what you need to go about your daily life. Three fundamental key stones of minimalism would be:

  • Simplicity
  • Usefulness
  • Clarity

As a tool, minimalism helps us find freedom. Freedom from fear, worry, guilt, depression and the trappings of the consumer culture that we’ve built our lives around. This does not mean that there is anything inherently wrong with owning stuff but I think the problem seems to be the meaning we attach to these material possessions often to the detriment of our health, relationships, passions, goals and happiness. Want to own a fancy car? That’s alright. Want to own a house? Perfect. If these things are important to you and what you percieve to be your purpose, that’s awesome. Minimalism only seeks to help us make these decisions more deliberately. There are many successful minimalists who live appreciably different lives; Josh Becker has a career he enjoys, a family he loves and a house in the suburbs whereas, Colin Wright owns only 51 things and travels around the world. Tammy Strosel however lives in a tiny home and completely car-free. Even though each of these people live comparatively different lives, they share two similarities: they are minimalists and minimalism has let them pursue their life’s purpose more efficiently.

Minimalism is about intentionality, not deprivation


Scientifically speaking, there is only so much our brains can process at any given time. The more tasks you take on, the more stuff you own, the more clutter on your phone, or wardrobe, etc the more it cuts into this finite brain power even without directly engaging them or thinking about them. Consequently, this leaves less brain power for the things that actually matter and are important to our life’s purpose. In addition to creating more space for what really matters, other benefits of minimalism would include:

  • Less spending
  • Less stress
  • More freedom
  • More productivity
  • Visual appeal
  • More time to pursue passion
  • Contribute beyond ourselves
  • Focus on health
  • Eliminate discontent
  • Room for loved ones, etc.

By embracing this culture we get a chance at lasting happiness and that’s what we all want right? Minimalists seek happiness through life itself not through things. It is up to us to determine what is necessary and what is not. Remember, the more stuff you own, the more your stuff owns you.

The more you own, the more it owns you

Henry Rollins

Ok, so now you know the benefits of decluttering your life, but you may be getting tripped up by the very next question… where in the world do you begin? Firstly, I would like to say, as a word of encouragement that it’s not easy to begin but the journey gets easier and more rewarding the further you go. Having said that, let’s begin.

The first steps require a radical change in your mindset before the action towards developing the culture. This involves a deep understanding and appreciation of the concept of minimalism and it’s potential benefits to you. That not withstanding, we don’t have to fully get a grasp of it to begin, we just have to begin and let the journey be the guide, afterall seeing (or rather doing) is believing right. So let’s get to the doing. Here are a few creative tips to help you get started on your journey:

  • Eliminate, Eliminate, Eliminate. One of the most important parts of minimalism is decluttering. To start decluttering, identify what serves a purpose in your life and what doesn’t. I’ve found that it helps applying the 90% rule here. Make a list of the criteria every item must pass to be considered useful and any item that doesn’t meet a 90% score is discarded. In other words, if it’s not a solid yes, then it’s a solid no.
  • Shop Quality not Quantity. Minimalism doesn’t mean you never go shopping, it simply means you’re more intentional about what you buy. Whether it’s a new shirt or a meal at a nearby restaurant, invest in quality over quantity. Although a higher price tag may not exactly be what you need at the moment, you’ll likely save money in the long run by cutting down on frequent purchases. Also try and eat less than your hunger demands, you’re not exactly preparing for a famine.
  • Invest in Reusables. Reusables instead of disposables help cut down on the amount of waste you have to deal with. As you declutter consider swapping out the disposable water bottles for a glass reusable one and carry a food flask to the restaurant when you want a takeaway. Not only could you get a discount, you’re also serving a bigger goal; waste management.
  • Digitise Everything. If you’re big on books or photos or movies, consider going digital with your collection. Not only will this save space but it will also make it easier to retrieve.
  • Take Charge of your Finances. A popular practice in minimalism is prioritising experiences over buying material possessions, so invest in experiences. Take time to access your spending habits and cut down on unnecessary expenses or cut them off completely.
  • Can’t Control it, Let Go. Letting go of things you can’t control is easier said than done. But it helps to start with focussing on the things you love to do or have. Once you’ve narrowed down to that, your energy is narrowed down as well and with a tint of gratitude for what you do have, you will find yourself wanting less instead of more stuff.
  • Audit Frequently. Take time to access your current habits and consistently review them. Always cut out things that take up space and events that drain your energy. As you get more comfortable you may find yourself wanting to get rid of things you thought you couldn’t do without.

Maybe the life you’ve always wanted is buried under everything you own.

– Joshua Becker

In conclusion, minimalism essentially suggests that we do not need a ton of material possessions to be happy but it doesn’t end there. Minimalism should extent beyond the physical. It should reflect in our minds, out speech, our body language, our diet, to mention a few. It should be allowed to sip into the very core of our being. We should always remember that the essence of this practice is not necessarily in the having of less, but in the making of space/time to be more. If this be true, then our lives will glaring evidence that indeed, LESS IS MORE.


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